• Filmmaking Post Getting Started iPhone video tips
  • 4 iPhone Video Tips for Taking Amazing Video

    If you have an iphone (or any smartphone, for that matter),  you’ve got everything you need to make a great science video. Of course, if you want to make an amazing video you’re going to have to learn a few filmmaking techniques to make it shine. Start by watching this short video we put together that highlights four tricks that will help you become a better smartphone filmmaker!

    IPhone Video Tip 1: Hold it steady

    This is extremely important. The first of our iPhone video tips is to keep the phone as steady as possible. The iPhone can take lovely HD footage if it is perfectly still, but if you shake the sensor (move the phone) the image quality begins to degrade. Just as when you shoot with a professional video camera, a tripod will only help you!  For this shoot, I tried this tripod.

    If you don’t have a tripod, one stabilization trick is resting the phone on a t-shirt or something soft while you hold it on a table top, the ground or any solid surface. Holding your breath during shots can also help minimize shakiness if you are hand-holding the phone on a solid surface. If you can prop it on a surface without holding it (I’m fond of using two bean bags to hold it at the right angle), that’s even better.

    IPhone-video-tripod

    IPhone Video Tip 2: Use Good Light

    If you can’t get good studio lights, one simple solution is to go outside! Smartphones can take amazing photos and video, but the the light needs to be fairly bright. We’ve all seen grainy photos and videos from well-meaning folks, so just keep in mind the lighting in most houses alone is not bright enough for crisp photos and video. If you’re filming indoors, light it up as much as possible – with bulbs or even just filming near a sunny window.

    Iphone video tips - good light

    IPhone Video Tip 3: Focus on Sound

    The best way to get good sound is to use a quality microphone that’s close to your mouth. There are a few good microphones for the iPhone. The two that I’m a big fan of are the Rode SmartLav and the Rode iXY. If I were to consider any of these iPhone video tips the most important, it would be this one. Without good sound, the video is going to feel more amateur.

    iphone-video tips - good microphones

    IPhone Video Tip 4: Use some lenses

    Mix it up. Try a few specialty lenses. They may not be the best thing in the world, but they’re fun to try to mix up you shots. For this shoot, I used a 60x microscope lens, a telephoto lens, and a wide angle lens kit. Overall, they’re cheap and kinda fun to play with. However, I should note that the BEST lens is the one that is on the camera. These cheap lenses do act to degrade the quality of the image a bit, as you can probably see from the video we took.

    If you don’t want to purchase lenses, you can still set up interesting shots. Variety is the spice of life AND filmmaking. Try shooting from the ground, from up high, from the side, from inside things – lots of angles! The camera may be small, but you can still be very dynamic with the way you shoot and tell your story.

    iphone lenses - microscope, telephoto and wide

    Some Extra iPhone Video tips

    1. Use the tap to focus feature: the iPhone does a great job of focusing on near or far objects. Make sure you’re focusing on the right one.
    2. Don’t shoot vertical video: Don’t hold it up and down. If you’re not convinced, you need to watch this (hilarious) Vertical Video PSA.
    3. Get B-roll: If you’re going to edit it later, get a diversity of shots. Close ups, wides, the works.
    4. Get Close: The bigger your subject in the shot the better. Most iphone videos are seen on tiny screens. To get the detail you have to get close.
    5. Learn proper Framing: This goes for all filmmaking. Know what the rule of thirds are? If not, check out this link.

    Ok I hope these iPhone video tips help you make some great videos to share with others. Leave me any comments if you have other tips or suggestions.

    We have a new book – Making Science Films!

    Amazon link to how to make wildlife films

    Written by Rob Nelson

    Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is also an award winning filmmaker. As principle director of the Untamed Science productions his goal is to create videos and content that are both entertaining and educational. When he's not making science content, he races slalom kayaks and skydives.

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